How Does Scoring Work In Bodybuilding?

How Does Scoring Work In Bodybuilding

The IFBB scoring is based upon three areas which are scored head to head rather than scoring points for specific features. The competitors are ranked, and the athletes that do not receive a high enough ranking do not move on to the next round. The rounds are titled Prejudging: Eliminations Round, Prejudging: Semifinals, and Finals, and in each round, the entrants must do a select set of poses that best display the muscle group that the judges will be examining.

Each judge submits their rankings, and each judge's ranking form is tallied together to create the competitors' final position and score. The bodybuilder with the lowest overall ranking is named the winner.

Prejudging: Eliminations

This round typically takes place before the main event even starts and is oftentimes not even open to the public. This round is not always held and usually exists to get the field of competitors down to 15. The IFBB Chief Judge determines if this round is necessary.  During prejudging, competitors perform a series of mandatory poses, which are predetermined by the organizers of the competition.

Competitors are evaluated by a panel of judges based on their muscularity, definition, symmetry, and conditioning. This is very similar to later rounds, but the individual physiques are not given nearly as much scrutiny here as they are in later rounds. The judges will choose the top 15 by marking an “X” beside their numbers on the scoresheet. The statisticians will transfer the judge’s marks onto their own sheet and then tally the judge’s scores to select the top 15 competitors.

Prejudging: Semifinals

The second round is designed to narrow the field of competitors from 15 down to six. This round of the competition immediately follows the first round and judges for both symmetry as well as muscle strength and size. Judges are looking for a very proportional physique where the muscle distribution is balanced throughout the body. Some specifics that the judges will look for are the waist-to-shoulder ratio as well as the size of the competitor's arms compared to their legs. A clear indicator of a disproportionate body is if a single muscle group stands out as larger or more impressive than the others.

After examining the symmetry of the competitors, it is time for them to analyze the size and definition of the muscles themselves. Larger muscles are given more points; however, a larger person does not always equate to larger muscles. Vascularity, muscle striations, and distinct muscle definition warrant better (lower) scores from the judges.

This round has eight mandatory positions: front double bicep, front lat spread, side chest, side tricep, rear double bicep, rear lat spread, abdominals with one thigh, and the most muscular. These poses were specifically designed to best display certain muscle groups for the judges to analyze closely. Despite being named after specific body parts, the judges are looking at the contestant's entire body in each pose.

Each judge will rank the competitors individually from 1 to 15, ensuring that no two or more competitors occupy the same place. The judges often use a from entitled “Judge’s

Personal Notes” to record their assessment of each competitor. These assessments help them come up with their ranking decisions. The top six finalists may be announced after the Prejudging and before the Finals.


The third and final round is the posing routine. Up until this point, each of the competitors are restricted to the same set of poses for the same amount of time, so the posing routine gives the remaining competitors a chance to showcase parts of their physique that may not have been highlighted in previous rounds. These routines are often done to music and last around two minutes.

The contestants start the final round with zero points. Each judge will award the individual athlete a ranking from one to six.The statisticians will transcribe each judge’s placings onto a score sheet, with each place representing a point. (First place is one point, second place is two points, etc.) The bodybuilder with the lowest score wins. Only the scores from the final round are taken into consideration.


How do you score points in bodybuilding?

Bodybuilders are awarded points based on their muscle mass, muscle definition, symmetry, and balance. All of these factors contribute to a bodybuilder's physique and affect how they are scored by the judges. The criteria differ slightly depending on what bodybuilding division one is competing in, but for the most part, the standards remain the same. The goal of a bodybuilder is to get the lowest score possible from each judge.

What is a good score in bodybuilding?

A good score could range anywhere from a 7 to a 21. Any score within this range means that an athlete averaged a top three finish among all of the judges. Taking into account that there are normally seven judges and six finishing positions, then a perfect score would be a 7. (All of the judges unanimously awarded first place to a single bodybuilder.) Since the first two rounds of an IFBB competition are elimination, the scores don’t really become a huge factor until the final round, in which they determine each athlete’s final placing.